No right to pray for Muslim pupil at German school

Berlin school pupil Yunus Mitschele with lawyer in court in Leipzig Yunus Mitschele has fought a four-year legal battle for the right to pray at his Berlin school

Germany's top administrative court has ruled that a student does not have an automatic right to pray at school.

The case was brought by an 18-year-old Muslim pupil at a Berlin school after he was told by his head teacher that prayer was not allowed on the school grounds.

The teenager and several other pupils kneeled in a hallway during a break to pray.

The court found that the school could ban prayer if the act caused conflict.

Start Quote

A school must decide if it is really necessary to restrict religious freedom in order to keep the peace at the school.”

End Quote Judge Werner Neumann German Federal Administrative Court

The decision brings to an end a four-year legal battle by the pupil, Yunus Mitschele.

He is a student at a grammar school in the mixed area of Wedding, which had experienced clashes between groups of Muslim students over prayer rituals.

The court found that the conflict that might be expected at the school if religious acts were allowed would be beyond the level that school staff could deal with. Setting aside a room specifically for prayer would be beyond the organisational capacity of the school, it said.

The judges at the Federal Administrative Court, in Leipzig, stressed that the ruling did not mean that no student could pray at school. The decision should be made on a case by case basis.

The German constitution guarantees freedom of religion and so a school pupil would generally be entitled to pray when at school, outside of lesson times.

Judge Werner Neumann said that a school must decide if it is really necessary "to restrict religious freedom in order to keep the peace at the school".

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